By Editorial Staff
Published September 1, 1990
“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).
It was twelve years ago that Alexander Solzhenitsyn stunned the distinguished audience assembled for Harvard’s 327th commencement.
Sounding more like an Old Testament prophet than a Nobel Laureate, Solzhenitsyn charged intellectuals and the media with abandoning the West’s Christian heritage and embracing instead a destructive humanism.
While the human spirit had been strengthened in the West through suffering, said Solzhenitsyn, the affluent and comfortable West had become spiritually exhausted. It had lost its courage and moral resolve.
Many dismissed the Russian writer’s speech as an extremist’s rantings. The suggestion of spirituality in the East seemed unlikely at best; Communist tyrants held the church in an iron grip. And in the West an unprecedented born-again movement anticipated a widespread return to traditional moral values.
But by 1990 Solzhenitsyn’s startling words had proved prophetic. A spiritual movement born in the open-air masses of Krakow, the Lutheran churches of East Germany, and the sanctuaries of brave Romanian pastors had spilled onto the streets, toppling Communist tyrants. All the while the West, its born-again enthusiasm spent, drifted far from its moral moorings.
A few months ago I traveled to Solzhenitsyn’s native land. There I saw firsthand the new spiritual openness in the East the Russian writer had foretold.
I went to Russia to visit Soviet prisons, and in Moscow found myself at a negotiating table across from Vadim Viktorovich Bakatin, minister of internal affairs and fourth-ranking official in the Communist government.
Mr. Bakatin is an impressive man with alert, penetrating eyes and a hearty manner. He welcomed our delegation and opened the meeting by explaining , with disarming candor, the crime problem in the Soviet Union.
Crime shot up 38 percent in 1989, he said. The reasons were varied: economic, political and ethnic unrest. But the Soviets were determined to improve their prison system and deal with their crime crisis.
He had been candid; I returned the favor. I told him that crime is not caused by economic or political or ethnic factors. It is caused by sin – by the fundamental evil in the human heart.
In a system that rejects God, there can be no transcendent values or authority to which people are accountable – so one can only reasonably expect unfettered human behavior. And that means crime. “As your own writer Fyodor Dostoyevski put it in The Brothers Karamazov,” I said, “when there is no God, everything is permitted. Crime becomes inevitable.”
Then I described Prison Fellowship’s ministry: how Christian volunteers visit prisons, sharing the news that Jesus can change an offender’s heart and give him a new perspective for living. Bakatin listened intently, “That’s what we need,” he said.
Encouraged, I laid my hopes on the table. This is what I would suggest,” I said. “One, that religious services be allowed. Two, that community involvement be encouraged. Three, that aftercare be developed, using community groups like Prison Fellowship. And four, that restitution and help for victims be made part of your criminal justice process.”
Mr. Bakatin smiled broadly, “Mr. Colson,” he said, “we will welcome Prison Fellowship and groups like you in our prisons. We need your kind of help.” He paused, then with a twinkle in his eye concluded, “And God be with you.”
Surprised and delighted as I was by this outcome, I’m not so naive as to suppose that Soviet officials have all been born again. But what is obvious is that they recognize the failure of the Communist’s system to provide any moral undergirding for their society.
This is the great irony of our age. While formerly “godless Communists” are affirming the fact that society cannot survive without a vital religious influence, religion continues to be shoved out of the public square in what many used to call Christian America.
- Chuck Colson
The God of Stones and Spiders
The God of Stones and Spiders, a recently released book by Chuck Colson, tells of the anti-Christian bias inherent in America’s society of the 1990s. A compilation of essays taken from regular columns written for Jubilee, the newsletter of Prison Fellowship, Colson’s intent is to alert the West to the forces of a hostile culture and call us to renew our spiritual strength.
The obscure title, The God of Stones and Spiders, comes from the story of Nien Ching, a Chinese woman who spent seven years in prison during China’s Cultural Revolution. Watching a spider weave an intricate web from a window of her prison cell, Nien Ching asked herself, “Who had taught the spider to make a web? Could it have really acquired the skill through evolution, or did God create the spider and endow it with the ability to make a web so that it could catch food and perpetuate the species?” This experience helped the woman to see that God, not Mao, was in control.
It is the power and sovereignty of God, rather than human wisdom, that enables us to overcome in our struggles. A god limited to human campaigns and crusades is too small. Like the Pharisees, who told Jesus to keep his disciples quiet, our human effort is an offense to the true God, awesome in power and might, who can only reply: “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
Colson has hit on many of the most important issues that face us and offers biblically based answers to the problems that threaten to destroy our society. Dealing with the issues of government and public policy, culture, the church, prisons and criminal justice, Colson offers challenge, insight and prophetic words for America.
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Russia, Ukraine and former USSR
Your comments are welcome!
Download the Free Study Guide!
Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)